Jeremy Lin says God’s fingerprints are all over his story and if that’s true you have to admit He certainly took his time.
“A miracle from God is the way I would describe it,” Lin told a packed news conference at Air Canada Centre prior to tonight’s game between the Raptors and his New York Knicks.
“So much has to be put into place and a lot of it is out of my control. It doesn’t matter where you look, God’s fingerprints are all over the place.”
Lin, just another Harvard educated Asian-American overnight basketball success story has hit the mainstream media like a backdraft in a burning house.
There were better than a dozen cameras and at least 75 media members pressed together to hear Lin speak. While the reporters waited they interviewed each other. In the media world there are few items so pressing as to prompt journalists to ask each other what it all means.
But suddenly these are unusual times. If you limit your sample to his first give games as a starter, Lin’s career is without precedent.
The 23-year-old scored 38 points Friday against the Lakers, a performance coach Mike D’Antoni – paroled by Lin from a season spent atop everyone’s to be fired list – termed off the charts.
“He’s the real deal,” D’Antoni said.
“To be able to step up on national TV with all this scrutiny at Madison Square Garden, to me that’s remarkable that he could do that in that game.”
Inserted into the lineup less than two weeks ago because of an injury to Baron Davis, Lin has never scored fewer than 20 points as a starter. Yes, the sample is tiny but the results are gargantuan.
Lin is bigger than King Kong in New York because the Knicks have won five in a row. Twice cut and a former d-league player, Lin’s odds of having someone outside his family recognize his last name were incalculable. Justifiably uncertain of his ability to stick, he slept on his brother’s Manhattan couch before landing a contract.
“If the Knicks went 2-3 instead of winning five in a row we’d all be saying ‘okay, when is Baron Davis coming back,’” said Mitch Lawrence, the NBA columnist for the New York Daily News. I don’t think I’ve heard the name Baron Davis for the last week. No one in New York would care if Baron Davis retired.”
Up to now the existence of God has been evidenced by what was widely assumed to be his visceral dislike of the New York Knicks. D’Antoni is the luckiest man on the planet and he knows it.
“I would like to think we’re smart enough to keep him around until an opportunity arose but I wouldn’t bet on it,” he said.
Lin’s ethnicity is central to the story. Both his parents are Taiwanese. His father, Gie-Ming was a basketball fan but his journey to America was about gaining a PhD.
Lin is just another kid who uses basketball to fight his way up from the mean streets Palo Alto. Becoming the best player in the history of Harvard in retrospect made for fascinating copy since the school has produced many courtside but no mentionable backcourt players.
Lin was cut by his hometown Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets before finding New York in the churning post-lockout reformation.
All this is a bit like Miracle on 34th Street, where despite exhaustive research no one can dig up a thing about this guy in red who is acting like Santa Claus.
His vision and standing as a pass-first but score plenty point guard has melded perfectly in D’Antoni’s free-form offence. Things figure to get better tonight when Amare Stoudemire returns to the lineup against the Raptors.
Lin is religious, specifically Christian, Tebow-esque in fact and a nation laced with fundamentalist Christians will no doubt find much to like in the story of a dogged kid who likes to, in his words, dig into his Bible. In interviews, Lin has quoted this passage: “suffering produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” That’s good stuff.
“This is not only a huge story in Taiwan,” said Omni Television reporter Becky Hung, one of dozen reporters who brought camera people to the event.
“The interest in him is huge. When Yao Ming retired, people were looking for a new rising star and Jeremy is that player.”
Lin insists colleagues and teammates have been amenable to his story. Kobe Bryant even extended a hand to help him off the floor Friday night.
Suddenly, the NBA, coming out of a lockout that strained the credibility of the regular season has a boffo story outside of Miami or Oklahoma City.
Things got even better when boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. helpfully chimed in with a controversial Tweet.
‘Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise,’ Mayweather tweeted Monday.
There may be something to that. Victor Cruz, an undrafted player who hit overnight stardom with the New York Giants, was never bigger than his sport. Still, it’s hard to mount much of a case for systematic under-representation of African American basketball players in the NBA.
“We’re aware of that side of it, the social aspect of it,” said Robert Klemko, a reporter from USAToday. “It’s interesting to see what Floyd Mayweather said but we are also mindful of how so many fans appreciate the unique talent Lin brings to the game.”
Despite Mayweather’s comments, Lin isn’t interesting in explaining the phenomenon along racial lines: “I don’t really have an answer to that question but I’m not really too concerned by what anyone says.”
The game figures to be a sell-out.
“We sold 3,000 tickets since Friday but I’d like to think it has a lot to do with our team having an amazing week,” said Beth Robertson, senior vice president, ticket sales.